Edinburgh's winter festivals

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  • Shoppers peruse the Christmas market stalls in Edinburgh
    The Christmas market in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh
  • The Christmas ice rink in Princes Street Gardens - photo by Kenny Lam
    Christmas Ice Rink, Princes Street Gardens
  • Santa Land in Princes Street Gardens - photo by Kenny Lam
    Santa Land, Princes Street Gardens
  • The Torchlight Procession through Edinburgh's Old Town takes place each 30 December - photo by Kenny Lam
    Hogmanay Torchlight Procession
  • Fireworks over Calton Hill at the end of the Torchlight Procession on 30 December - photo by Kenny Lam
    Fireworks over Calton Hill following the Torchlight Procession

Famous the world over for its hilltop castle, cultural festivals and Hogmanay street party, Edinburgh provides a magical backdrop for Christmas shopping, nights out and exceptional winter events.

Things to do

Running from 20 November - 4 January, Edinburgh’s Christmas offers no shortage of things to see and do this winter. Enjoy panoramic views of the capital from the top of the Big Wheel, spin around on the charming carousel in East Princes Street Gardens or brave a twirl on the 60-metre-high Star Flyer, in St Andrew Square.

Younger kids will love Santa Land in Princes Street Gardens, a festive fairground with six fun rides and a children’s market full of gifts and toys. Try to find the Elves’ Workshop hidden in the Christmas Tree Maze, or visit Santa’s Grotto to meet the man himself!

The Ice Rink in Princes Street Gardens is another highlight for kids and adults alike. St Andrew Square will be hosting the oval Ice Rink again, looping around the Melville Monument - hire a pair of skates and spin across the ice behind a gorgeous backdrop of the glittering city. 

Christmas markets

Don’t miss the festive markets in the city centre, a popular highlight of Edinburgh’s Christmas. Enjoy delicious food and drink and traditional crafts at the Scottish Market in St Andrew Square, pick up unique gifts and goods at the European Market in the Mound Precinct, or choose presents for the wee ones in the Children's Market, part of Santa Land in Princes Street Gardens.


Whether you’re looking for high-tech gadgets from leading department stores or a designer outfit from the boutiques in Multrees Walk, you’ll find that Edinburgh’s city centre is a great place for shopping. You can also take time to search for the perfect gift thanks to extended festive opening hours, with many stores opening until 8pm or later.

You’ll also find several retail centres just outside Edinburgh where you can pick up toys, clothes and other gifts. At Ocean Terminal in Leith you can enjoy Christmas shopping with a relaxing range of restaurants and cafes, and a trip around one of the city’s top attractions, The Royal Yacht Britannia. Why not make a day of it, or even enjoy a city break in the capital?


Browse the shows and events for all ages as part of Edinburgh’s Christmas, a fantastic winter events programme running from 20 November – 4 January, and of course, no winter in Edinburgh is complete without Hogmanay!

This year’s programme includes the Torchlight Procession through Edinburgh’s Old Town on 30 December, followed by the famous street party, a ceilidh, a concert in Princes Street Gardens and a spectacular fireworks display on 31 December. Book now to begin planning your unforgettable New Year in Scotland.  


Edinburgh is brimming with festive performances to enjoy, including including pantomimes such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at The King’s Theatre from 28 November to 17 January and the Scottish Ballet’s Cinderella at The Festival Theatre from 5 December – 31 December.

Children will love the fantastic adaptation of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe this year at The Royal Lyceum Theatre from 28 November – 3 January or Julia Donaldson’s The Stick Man in the Spiegeltent in St Andrew’s Square from 20 November – 29 December.

Also on at the Spiegeltent is Baby Loves Disco’s: Kilts and Christmas Jumpers, a brilliant kids’ disco on 30 December- 2 January. A six-year sell-out at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this unique dayclubbing experience for babies, toddlers and preschoolers comes complete with crafts, dress up, facepainting and a bar for parents.

Find more things to see and do in Edinburgh & The Lothians this winter.